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Experts Finds New Species of Human Ancestor

An international team of researchers, led by University of Winnipeg palaeoanthropologist Dr. Mirjana Roksandic, has announced the naming of a new species of human Ancestor, Homo bodoensis. This species lived in Africa during the Middle Pleistocene, around half a million years ago, and was the direct Ancestor of modern humans.

The Middle Pleistocene is important because it saw the rise of our own species in Africa, our closest relatives, and the Neanderthals (in Europe. The human evolution during this age is poorly understood, a problem which paleoanthropologists call the muddle in the middle.

The announcement of Homo bodoensis hopes to bring some clarity to this puzzling, but important chapter in human evolution.The new name is based on a reassessment of existing fossils from Africa and Eurasia from this time period. Traditionally, these fossils have been variably assigned to either Homo heidelbergensis or Homo rhodesiensis, both of which carried multiple, often contradictory definitions.

Recently, DNA evidence has shown that some fossils in Europe called H. heidelbergensis were actually early Neanderthals, making the name redundant. For the same reason, the name needs to be abandoned when describing fossil humans from east Asia according to co-author, Xiu-Jie Wu .The introduction of H. bodoensis is aimed at “cutting the Gordian knot and allowing us to communicate clearly about this important period in human evolution” according to one of the co-authors Christopher Bae.

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